Krabi is a small town on the Krabi River about 5 kilometers up-river from the Bay. The town is not a major tourist area, but is the governmental and market center of the province. Krabi is a very well organized and clean town with a large beautiful park along the river. Across the river is a broad area of mangrove forest that is a National Park area. There are a number of good restaurants, and an increasing number with decent European food. Three major supermarkets are now open: Macro, Tesco, and Central's Big C. The Big C complex also has a large home improvement store, and the Tesco Center has a cineplex facility. There are several quality housing developments in the town area.
Krabi is served by a new and very modern airport currently with flights from Bangkok, Europe, and Singapore. There is an equally modern new small port facility that serves the islands. For a small town and province, Krabi has excellent infrastructure and facilities.
A private hospital is in the beginning stages of development. The Sofitel Resort in the Klong Muang area has a resort 9-hole golf course in a beautiful setting. Other similar facilities will come relatively quickly now that Krabi development is picking up pace. A second 9-hole golf course on the outskirts of town is nearing completion. Several major marinas are planned, with 1 almost completed.
Klong Muang (Together with Ao Siow, Laem Pong, Tubkaek, & Haad Sai Khao form the Sapphire Coast of Krabi)
Sapphire Coast joins 5 beaches, Ao Siow, Klong Muang,
Laem Po, Tubkaek, and Haad Sai Khao (White-sand Beach). The branding of the region is a new initiative from Krabi officials. About 20 kilometers northwest of Krabi town, this is the
highest-end area of Krabi with 3 very luxurious boutique hotels on the
beach, including a new Ritz-Carlton Reserve Resort, the Phulay Bay (Tubkaek). In
addition there is a Sheraton Resort (Ao Siow), a Sofitel (Klong Muang) with a resort golf
course,and several other 4 and 5 star properties. The land here is the
most expensive in Krabi. As a result, the development here is going to
be of the highest overall quality in the province.
The 5 beaches of fine white sand extend over 7 kilometers with a
magnificent view to the west facing many of the famous limestone karst
islands with the large Yao Islands (Long Islands) in the background.
This entire bay area is a major producer of bird's nests. This part of
Krabi is the gateway to one of the most beautiful bays in the world that
is destined to be the 'Riviera" of Asia in the coming decades.
Klong Muang is just beginning to be developed, it will benefit from new
zoning laws that will control building and land use. This will prevent
the unplanned and chaotic development that occurred on Lanta Island. In
the entire Klong Muang area, nothing can be taller than 4 floors. Behind
the beach area are high hills with one mountain at the back. Much of
this is designated Forest Land and cannot be developed. It is mostly
forested and rubber trees now.
Klong Muang is on a dead-end road,
but there are apparently plans to extend the road and connect it
through to the north. There are currently 2 gypsum piers operating.
These piers have the deepest natural water berthing in Thailand, shipping the gypsum to Malaysia and Indonesia. These piers are
currently quite disruptive because of the large trucks that use the road
into the area. The gypsum is trucked across the southern peninsula from
the east side Surat Thani area. The concessions for the piers will end
within the next several years. At that point, it is likely that these
piers will be turned into tourist based facilities.
In the next
several years there will be a number of international level residential
projects started in Klong Muang. These are planned to be luxury
villa-type developments with truly world-class views.
Southern End of Sapphire Coast: Ao Siow Looking Northwest
Ao Nang, 15 kilometers from Krabi Town, is the tourist center of Krabi. There is a small but lively shopping area with a range of western-style restaurants, a wide variety of hotels from cheap to expensive, diving shops, and tourist services. Ao Nang has a large but rather steep beach. There are only 2 hotels actually on the beach, but several across a street and many nearby. Tourists leave here for the spectacular Railay peninsula which is only a 10 minute boat ride away (where there are 2 luxury hotels), a chain of islands with beautiful beaches, and Phi Phi Island. A boat service to Phuket also leaves from the Nopparat Thara Park area, a couple of kilometers to the north.
As there are numerous foreigners working in the Ao Nang area, there are some small new housing developments. Some are good value properties that are well designed and built.
Koh Lanta is a large island at the south end of the province. It is accessible by road (using two very inefficient car ferry crossings) taking about 2 hours from Krabi Town when the traffic is normal, and much longer during holidays.
Lanta was the first area to be developed for tourists, and unfortunately was done in a rather chaotic way. Now, as land becomes more expensive, the hotels, shops, and services are moving more up-market. Accommodations range from back-packer cheap to very expensive resorts. The west side of Lanta has 8 very scenic beaches with fine sand and clear water. The eastern side has great views over a bay that extends to the mainland.
Lanta has a number of small developments with individually built houses. The villas at the Pimalai Resort are completed, and these are high-end, well designed villas costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Koh Jum as it is know locally, or Koh Pu officially, is small, laid-back, and has the potential to be an excellent eco-resort if development is controlled. Several villas complexes have been completed: one high-end, and one mid-level. Access is by boat from Laem Kuat or by the Krabi-Lanta ferry, which stops offshore for passengers to be transferred to long-tail boats.
The newest area to be targeted for development is Haad Yao (Long Beach) across the river to the south of Krabi Town. This is a large peninsula (almost an island) with an 8-kilometer/5 mile long beach. It is not a great swimming beach - the sand is brown-grey and the water is very shallow for a long way out - but is good for walking. The views are good, facing Phi Phi Island to the west and the mountains around Rai Ley to the north.
Haad Yao has been a rather poor isolated area that has a very low population of fishermen. It was a rice-growing area, with some new palm plantations started (mostly as a holding strategy for developmental land). The area is almost completely flat. It is about 40-minutes drive from Krabi Town, and about 25 kilometers from the airport.
Developing is lagging. Except for the Sunset Group, which has 4 adjacent small projects, not much is happening. Large plots of beach-front land are owned by investors (and land speculators) with nothing planned. Infrastructure is lacking and the closest shops and restaurants of any quality are in Nua Klong, a 20-minute drive.
Krabi covers a lot of area, with some beautiful mountain and hill areas to the north. These have not been developed yet, but it is only a matter of time before we see some developments in these non-coastal areas. A Jack Nicklaus designed championship golf course, Krabi Cliffs, has been announced in an area off the main road 25 kilometers east of Krabi Town.
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